Police in Tianjin have raided dozens of underground factories that have been making fake branded seasoning products for more than 10 years.
The scandal spurred concerns about food safety in China, with some experts saying the fake ingredients could harm the liver, kidneys, nervous system and cause cancer, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports, citing mainland media.
Beijing News first reported the existence of 50 factories producing the fake products in Duliu town in Tianjin’s Jinghai district on Monday.
According to the report, they made sauces and seasonings from industrial salt, pigments and food additives made of artificial chemicals in unsanitary conditions.
The products were then labeled with well-known brands such as Nestle, Lee Kum Kee, Knorr, Haday and Totole.
About 100 million yuan (US$14.5 million) worth of fake products were produced annually by the factories, about 30 kilometers from downtown Tianjin.
They were sold in Beijing and Shanghai and in Anhui, Jiangxi, Fujian, Shandong and Sichuan provinces. There was no mention of Guangdong or Hong Kong.
The report prompted the Food and Drug Administration and the Ministry of Public Security to field more than 80 investigators and police officers.
Apple Daily reported that the factories operate a complete line of products that were sold at low prices and huge volumes.
A source said the factories are able to make branded seasoning products that look almost identical to the genuine ones.
A worker from one of the factories said a bottle of fake Knorr spicy sauce sells for 3.30 yuan compared with the original price of 20.50 yuan.
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